ECO TECHNOLOGIES AND ENVIRONMENT IN 2020

Share this post on:

Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

Global population growth and urbanization will lead to a production of 3.4 billion tons of waste in 2050. It means that global waste will increase by 70% compared to 2020. Waste management is essential for sustainable cities and communities, but often low-income countries neglect it. Poor waste management is damaging human health and the environment.

Waste management systems are essential for building a circular economy, where products are designed and optimized for reuse and recycling. This helps to promote efficient economic growth by minimizing the environmental impact. Uncollected and badly disposed waste have significant impact on health and the environment.

Countries can be supported by funding for waste management through these solutions:

  • Providing funds for fast growing countries to foster the development of cutting-edge waste management systems;
  • Support major waste-producing countries for reducing plastic and marine litter consumption through comprehensive waste reduction and recycling programs;
  • Reduction of food waste thanks to consumer education, organic product management and coordinated food waste management programs.

TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

About the relationship between technologies and environment, greater efficiency, less impact and better alternatives would be needed to promote development that is truly sustainable. Greater efficiency means the optimization of the yield of resources.

Today much of the energy is lost due to the use of poorly efficient technologies, the waste and improper use. This happens both at the level of energy production plants and at the level of the end user. For example, in thermal power plants, where polluting resources such as fossil fuels are burned, the average efficiency is 40%. This means that only 40 units of fuel energy are transformed into electricity, while the other 60 are dissipated in the form of heat.

The most modern plants, made with new technologies, instead achieve yields of 65% but still have a high loss. An already feasible solution is given by micro-cogeneration systems, which manage to recover the heat emitted by combustion and use it in heating systems as thermal energy.

In this way, more than 90% of the energy potentially present in the starting fuel is exploited. In addition, it is necessary to reduce the environmental impact of human activities as much as possible. Choosing the best alternatives means replacing polluting technologies with other non-polluting ones, starting from the sources of energy production.

One of the main causes of the greenhouse effect is the use of electricity in homes. Laws, Directives and Regulations, including those to improve the thermal insulation of buildings, can substantially contribute to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

Each citizen can contribute through small every-day actions. For example, the greater the energy efficiency of the bulbs and appliances that are used, the lower the impact on the environment. In the past, incandescent lamps were mainly used, but they dissipate a lot of energy in the form of heat.

Today fluorescent lamps are becoming increasingly popular which, thanks to significantly higher efficiency values, enable to save up to 75% of energy. They have a higher cost than incandescent ones, but they last much longer and consume less.

As regards refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, lamps and electric ovens, in Italy it is mandatory to have a label that illustrates its characteristics, including annual electricity consumption and energy efficiency class, represented by a letter from A (it guarantees the lowest energy consumption) to G (it is considered the worst).

Obviously, given that 20% of the emissions are linked to the industrial sector and a similar percentage represents the emissions caused by the consumption of fuels by motor vehicles, it is essential to foster the rationalization and energy recovery also in the production systems and to optimize the transport system.

Renewable energies, the solution for the environment

Besides fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) and nuclear (uranium), which have limited availability and whose use has an environmental impact, there are energy sources that are considered inexhaustible, thanks to their ability to regenerate in a more or less short time.

These include solar energy (photovoltaic and thermal), wind energy, hydroelectric energy, geothermal energy, energy derived from biomass, energy from the sea. Now researchers are developing increasingly efficient technologies, to be able to use these sources as well as possible.

Let’s see these energies resources together:

  • Solar energy: the sun makes available on the earth's surface up to 30 thousand times the current world energy demand. For this reason, it is important being able to capture it and make it usable. At the moment the technologies are divided into solar thermal for the heat production (hot water and building heating) and solar photovoltaic for the electricity production;
  • Wind energy: man begun to exploit this energy through windmills in past centuries, it derives from the movement of the air masses and their kinetic energy. In wind farms this is captured and transformed into mechanical energy by the turbine blades connected to a generator that produces electricity. These plants need to be located in an appropriate way in order to minimize their impact on ecosystems and wildlife;
  • Hydroelectric energy: it can be obtained from falling water from a higher to a lower point. The plants, therefore, use the potential mechanical energy contained in the water which is located at a higher altitude than that in which the turbines are located. Preferred are the so-called mini-hydroelectric power plants, of small size and limited environmental impact;
  • Geothermal energy: in some areas of the planet, hot water from the deep layers of the soil comes out in the form of jets or steam. This very high temperature water can be used for urban heating or to power geothermal power station where the electricity is produced;
  • Energy from biomass: it can be obtained from the use of a series of heterogeneous organic waste materials (with the exception of plastics and fossil materials) such as woodworking and farm and livestock waste, sewage, forest residues, municipal waste. This use does not contribute to the greenhouse effect as there is no net contribution to the increase in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. During combustion, an amount of CO2 equivalent to that absorbed during the growth of the biomass itself is released.
  • Energy of the sea: it is linked to the movements of the tides and the relative rise and fall of large masses of water. Researchers and engineers are working to minimise the environmental impact of generators on marine ecosystems.

SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology wondered about the relationship between technologies and environment, in particular about those technologies with a positive impact on humanity and the planet, directly asking philanthropist Bill Gates to provide a list of future innovations ranging from artificial intelligence to energy and from sustainability to health:

  • The ability of robots to adapt to the daily tasks of humans will help technological progress. Think of the Dactyl project, a robotic hand that recognizes the objects it manipulates thanks to artificial intelligence algorithms and a tireless trial and error process;
  • The new fission reactors of modern design, available from 2020, will make nuclear energy cheaper and safer;
  • Bioengineering research is trying to use genetic information in the form of nucleic acids within the mother's placenta to predict the possibilities of premature births;
  • A hi-tech pill able of navigating the intestinal tract and acquiring detailed images, replacing common endoscopies and biopsies;
  • A new type of personalized anticancer vaccines exploits the patients' immune system for the administration of drugs effective against different types of cancer, limiting damage to healthy tissues;
  • Meatless burgers made by vegetables, to feed an increasingly large population and prevent the planet from being irreversibly affected;
  • Devices for capturing CO2 in the atmosphere, capable of transforming carbon into a solid form which avoids contributing to the aggravation of the greenhouse effect;
  • A wrist electrocardiogram which, like the Apple Watch, will be able to measure an electrocardiogram of the owner, with beneficial effects on the prevention of dysfunctions and cardiovascular diseases;
  • Sewage-free toilets for developing countries, thanks to solutions that provide for the local treatment of waste;
  • Smarter digital assistants, able to understand commands formulated in a more natural way and respond almost spontaneously.

If you are looking for an authoritative partner for digital solutions and projects that promote technologies for the environment and the green economy, IPPO Engineering could be the solution for you.